I’m an outsider to Tooele County, so naturally I don’t have the attachment to Tooele County’s high school sports teams that long-time residents have developed. Sports writers generally stay without that vested interest anyway, but it sure makes a story a lot easier to write when teams are winning — it makes the audience and fan base a lot more interested to read my articles, too.
So when I say I’m not looking forward to covering Friday’s game in what I’m dreading might be an ice bowl, of course I’m just whining and being a wimp.
But as an admirer of the game, I feel good about saying how cool it is Tooele has made it to the state tournament with a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals of the 3AA state football tournament.
Back in the day — and I’m talking back when it wasn’t uncommon for teams to have 14 uniformed players — Tooele was pretty dominant. Utah high school football guru George Felt is always writing notes about how Tooele won this many games in 1920-something or that state title in 1930-whatever. That was a long time ago.
From the research I did when I came to the Transcript Bulletin last year, the most recent team at Tooele to be really good was that state title team in 2002. As best I can figure it without having experienced everything firsthand, it seems to me that a little after Stansbury opened, Tooele hasn’t been anything special on the gridiron — The Buffs couldn’t beat long-time rival Grantsville for a while, either.
But head coach Kyle Brady — whom everyone familiar with Tooele football will remember from that 2002 team — has got something good going on this year.
Tooele had a pretty good record last year after starting out 6-0 for the first time since whenever-it-was but suffered an early exit from the only games that really mattered — the ones in the state playoffs.
This year, the team returned the two leading rushers only for both of them to suffer injuries that held them out of games. But in the Spartan fashion of having the next soldier grab the shield of a fallen brother, the Buffaloes used their third- and fourth-string running backs to go on a four-game win streak to close the season.
Friday’s game will be more of a test. All four teams from the 3AA South region advanced through the first round against their northern opponents, and it happened that way last year, too. Even though the South teams are stronger from top to bottom, I think Tooele and Logan — the pride and joy of the North league — have a realistic chance of meeting in the final.
But it’s an uphill battle that will take some luck and favor for Tooele to bring back the glory days of 1930-whenever.
Or even memories of Brady’s 2002 state title team.
Tavin Stucki is a sports writer from Midvale, Utah, who knows all too well what it’s like to cheer for a team that hasn’t been good during his lifetime. Send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.